A new perspective of hurricanes

I’m just back from holiday and I should be rested and relaxed but the truth is that I can’t relax when my brothers and sisters are suffering. While I was away, I received pictures and videos of Irma’s handiwork and now those of the devastation wreaked on our sister, Dominica, by Maria.

These scenes are horrific and terrifying. Although we are seeing them, I don’t think we can fully appreciate the reality of what our neighbours faced through the hurricanes and in the aftermath. I mean, my electricity went off for a couple of hours this week and I didn’t know what to do with myself without my fan, my WiFi and my stove. Imagine it being off for two weeks or more!

This tragedy has given me a totally new perspective on hurricane preparedness. When I heard of the looting in some of the islands and the fact that people cannot get food or clean water, that tells me that in case of a hurricane, six cans of tuna and a few packs of eclipse biscuits are far from enough. Similarly, a few containers of water caught hurriedly as the system approaches would not be enough to sustain a family for several weeks without water. So we need to take hurricane preparedness seriously. 

I was saddened to hear of looting and violence in some of the countries that were hit by Irma and to think that people were desperate for food but there was none to buy. I don’t harbour any false ideas that Barbados would be like Japan after the earthquake where no one looted. So, my advice would be to forget the notion that God is a Bajan and consider that it could have been us.

You therefore need to make sure you have supplies to last three to four weeks if you can, that you include items like wipes and hand sanitizer, knowing that bathing and washing hands might be a luxury. For those of us who have dogs, you need to buy chow to last a few weeks.  I am very glad that the price of the dog chow I wrote about a couple of months ago has come back down to a reasonable amount.

My husband and I were chatting with a man who was in the BVI during Irma. He was staying in a well-built house and he told us that the windows were literally sucked out from their frames. The roof soon went and the wind came in like a tornado, destroying everything in the house and forcing them to take shelter in a cupboard covered with two mattresses.

He said that when the first window was sucked out, he tried to hold a couch in front of it and could feel the force of the wind trying to pull the couch through the space. The pressure also caused your ears to pop like when you’re in an airplane. His wife, who lives in Barbados, told me that she and a lot of her friends are now looking at their homes to see where is the safest place in a hurricane.

I can totally relate, because since these Category 5 hurricanes, I have started looking around to see where in the house we should hide out if, God forbid, we were hit by such a hurricane. To tell the truth, it’s hard to make sense of all that has happened, but I have seen some good in the midst of the tragedies.

In the last two weeks, I have seen people of the region praying for other countries as if they were their own; I have seen people go to the supermarket specifically to buy food and supplies to send to hurricane stripped countries; I have seen unity in the region and a desire to help our brothers and sisters like I have never seen before.

I have seen a video of a man whose roof was gone and whose house was flooding giving thanks to God in the midst of his situation.  His house had been damaged but their lives were spared.

My advice would be to make sure you have supplies to last three to four weeks, that you have identified a safe place in your house and that, in addition to food, you buy things like wipes and hand sanitizer. Based on the things that are being asked for in Dominca, tarpaulins should be added to the supply list.

A Category 5 hurricane puts things in perspective. It brings everyone to the same level, as evidenced by the Prime Minister of Dominica who lost his roof and had to be rescued and taken to a safer location.  Rich and poor have lost houses, clothes and possessions and have to start over again.

As a friend of mine said: “I never thought I would say ‘Praise the Lord’ to a Category 2 Hurricane. Perspective is a hell of a thing.”

I can totally relate to that.

Source: (Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She is the Barbados Facilitator for the InfoDev WINC Acceleration Programme and was the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014 – 2016). Contact her atdonna@donnaevery.com. Websitewww.donnaevery.com; www.facebook.com/DonnaEvery1)

26 Responses to A new perspective of hurricanes

  1. Santini More
    Santini More September 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    As a region we need to agree common strategies for dealing with Cat 5s. We may need to annually offshore emergency items, non perishable foods, medical supplies, generators, tarpaulins etc items in countries like Guyana & Trinidad and get them on-island as soon as the hurricane leaves the locality…. We need regional security forces with boots on the ground ASAP to maintain law and order….We also need to consider how we build in resilience to our infrastructure such as micro-grids instead of monolithic national grids which get taken out by the storms….There is so much at the regional level to be discussed. And when it comes to the funds for all of this, I think we vulnerable Small Island States should be provided with funds from the developed world or petroleum corporations who have instigated climate change which is wreaking havoc on we who have contributed so little to climate change….”You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

    Reply
    • Katrina Sealy
      Katrina Sealy September 23, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      You are aware that these corporations and developed countries will deny climate change once it requires them to make withdrawals?
      #we’re all dreamers

      Reply
    • Santini More
      Santini More September 23, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Katrina Sealy Yes that is true. However part of the Paris Climate Accord spoke to a fund for Climate Change Mitigation, this fund is needed NOW not in another 10 years time!

      Reply
    • Martine Boyer
      Martine Boyer September 23, 2017 at 2:14 pm

      And better building codes maybe…

      Reply
    • Santini More
      Santini More September 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Martine Boyer Along with strict enforcement of building codes and the replacement of wooden structures with walled homes….This is is gonna take real money!

      Reply
    • Martine Boyer
      Martine Boyer September 23, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Yes, that is another story. The poor people’s houses are always the most vulnerable.

      Reply
    • Katrina Sealy
      Katrina Sealy September 23, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Santini More I’m aware of this, however current bureaucracy doesn’t see the urgency..
      In addition the funds that are provided are squander by greedy politicians/governments.
      To have a real discussion and blueprint about disaster relief for the region everyone must be willing to view the benefits as a whole and not as individual nations.

      Reply
    • Santini More
      Santini More September 23, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Katrina Sealy I totally agree with you! Unfortunately the impotence of Caricom is indicative of why change may not occur. We continually elect small minded politicians when what our region needs are visionaries.

      Reply
    • Mark Husbands
      Mark Husbands September 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Spot on regarding improved regional planning based on the new data we have. Our countries must have planned response teams from each other with the appropriate teams and supplies prepped for landing as soon as feasible. No need to wait for a call particularly between Cat 3 and 5. Law and order clearly is paramount

      Reply
  2. John JT Titheridge
    John JT Titheridge September 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Can I ask a question here?..I have asked recently but as a visitor do you think that once the ports are safe & the people want us do you think tourists will be welcome? I think yes, to bring the income but others say anyone going to the region is selfish & we should stay away..I think it’s selfish to avoid the damaged places because your holiday will be spoiled?

    Reply
    • Santini More
      Santini More September 23, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Listen to; a) What you own Government is recommending & b) What the Government of the impacted island is recommending. You do not want to become part of the problem, if you know what I mean.

      Reply
    • John JT Titheridge
      John JT Titheridge September 23, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      When I ask this question I say this…’ that once the ports are safe & the people want us’ but people seem to miss this…am I putting this question wrongly?

      Reply
    • Santini More
      Santini More September 23, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      John JT Titheridge The ports sometimes re-open to allow in aid supplies and to evacuate folks, this does not mean that tourists are appropriate. As for “the people want us”, well of course people will want you to come back ASAP as they are heavily dependent on tourism, but that is not the same as it being ADVISABLE for you to return. Do you understand what I am trying to say?

      Reply
    • John JT Titheridge
      John JT Titheridge September 23, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Yes but a cruiseline isn’t going to send a billion dollar ship somewhere that is against advice..What I am being told by some is nobody should go there & cancel holidays & go elsewhere as it’s selfish to go to the disaster area I say it’s selfish to cancel & go elsewhere? Surely provided it’s safe, welcome & not against government advice people can live with a bit of mess to spend /donate cash?
      I help run a large cruise group & want to say the right thing

      Reply
    • Santini More
      Santini More September 23, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      John JT Titheridge I quite agree with you about Cruise ships, they are some of the most risk-averse set of corporations in existence. I am not sure if they are more concerned about their vessels or their passengers! So it will ultimately come down to your own judgement call.

      Reply
    • John JT Titheridge
      John JT Titheridge September 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      What I was asking really was all things being relatively ok after a reasonable time surely the people want the visitors?

      Reply
    • Martine Boyer
      Martine Boyer September 23, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Relatively ok means the island has to be able to accomodate travelers: hotels and restaurants must be reopened, roads, taxis, clean water, etc.

      Reply
    • John JT Titheridge
      John JT Titheridge September 23, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Martine Boyer yes of course, do people want a ship to rock up to the island & a few thousand people giving say $10 each or should they just go somewhere else…no brainer to me but I am old enough to know I may be wrong here.

      Reply
    • Martine Boyer
      Martine Boyer September 23, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      If something like this happened to Barbados and I had to postpone my trip, I would try to find a way to help by sending money if I can’t help in person. I never go on cruises, I prefer to stay in Barbados for my whole vacation.

      Reply
    • John JT Titheridge
      John JT Titheridge September 23, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      Martine Boyer yes but I bet if you didn’t HAVE to postpone you would go even though it may not be as tidy as it was but you would support the island.
      I am asking because cruise passengers can arrive in numbers without impacting the facilities on land but bring money

      Reply
    • Martine Boyer
      Martine Boyer September 23, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      John JT Titheridge That’s one of the reasons why I prefer to stay on land and spend money in the island. As long as my apartment is livable and the beach is ok, I would not cancel. Let’s just say it would take a lot for me to cancel my trip. I have been to Barbados 16 times since 2006. I was there for Cropover and going back for the holidays 🙂

      Reply
    • John JT Titheridge
      John JT Titheridge September 23, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Martine Boyer we do both cruise from Southampton & visit Bim when we can …
      I also have a small Barbados group on FB

      Reply
    • Martine Boyer
      Martine Boyer September 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Oh, that’s nice. I see we have a friend in common (Clem Curtis).

      Reply
    • John JT Titheridge
      John JT Titheridge September 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Martine Boyer sadly yes

      Reply
    • Martine Boyer
      Martine Boyer September 23, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      I know, so sad… I don’t know him personally, but my girlfriend, who is half Trinidian and half Canadian, found out two years ago that he was her half-brother! She spent the last two months by his side. She is a retired nurse also.

      Reply
  3. Janet Bishop
    Janet Bishop September 23, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Gerald Matthews

    Reply

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